Before the Covid-19 pandemic, home, work and vacation were firmly compartmentalised as three very different places. This situation is changing rapidly.
Today, it’s possible to choose a vacation destination and turn it into a place to live and work, too. Not many places tick all the boxes – after all, doesn’t the concept of vacationing need that all-important sense of ‘escape’?
Not if you’ve already escaped! Some entrepreneurs are already one step ahead in sorting out this conundrum, choosing the location for their business with lifestyle in mind and recognizing that the potential workforce is global. But how does this ‘everything in one place’ concept work in practice?
1. A different focus on how we work
The starting point is the recognition that things have changed radically. The old boundaries of home, office and break have blurred. The office is wherever you happen to be.
Even before the pandemic, people had been getting used to alternative ways of working. Hot-desking was already common, and widespread connectivity meant that killing 20 minutes in a coffee shop before a meeting could be turned into productive time. Now, most of us have access to all the tools we need outside the office. Borders and physical distance no longer prevent us from conducting business and meeting new prospects.
This situation has allowed founders to reduce the size of their offices and overheads. It also allows you to be more flexible in your working lifestyle and offers greater flexibility for your employees. This, in turn, gives them the freedom to manage their work/life balance more efficiently and removes some of the time and stress associated with the daily commute.
A stable work/life balance is likely to lead to increased levels of overall happiness and health. It can also help deliver increased productivity through a combination of reduced absence and sick leave, reduced stress, higher levels of engagement, enhanced satisfaction and lower healthcare usage.
2. No more strict division between home and work
The liberating nature of the digital revolution is not an entirely new phenomenon – technology, security and improved connectivity gave us instant access to work emails away from the office some time ago. Electronic devices are now much more powerful and give access to pretty much anything. As a result, the lines between work and play have become increasingly blurred.
The boundaries between office and home have never been more flexible, thanks to the pandemic. Workers can join conference calls in their pyjamas and still produce high-quality work. And, if they need to visit the office, they can be more productive by avoiding dead time during the commute.
One rarely discussed benefit is that the novelty allows founders and staff to have a more candid exchange about achieving a better work-life balance. This cooperation and honesty allows employees to achieve their very best at work. And as recent research from Finland suggests, it even reduces conflict between work and other areas of peoples’ lives, with employees able to talk about a variety of issues.
What’s happening is that everyone is working towards the same dream – cracking the code of the perfect work-life balance. And, for the first time, solving this conundrum is achievable for many of us. The irony is that it was a global pandemic that put the missing pieces of the puzzle in place.
3. A more rounded lifestyle
During the pandemic, the absence of everything we had loved doing previously merely intensified peoples’ cravings for those things. The yearning for a vacation was heightened by our inability to take one, and the simple luxury of spending time with loved ones became more valuable due to our isolation.
With remote and hybrid working options becoming the new norm, you and your employees have the chance to enjoy more of these leisure pleasures. Employees and company founders alike recognise that work can be carried out pretty much anywhere, and under all sorts of circumstances. As work becomes more flexible, where we choose to work, rest and play becomes the final piece of the work-life balance puzzle.
Past studies have shown that, with the flexibility to arrange their own schedules, people report less conflict between work and family responsibilities. That conflict will be reduced even further if the location of those work and family commitments adds to the happiness.
4. Putting the pieces together – which place offers the perfect trio of work, home and vacation?
Finding that perfect “single place” involves many factors. It needs to be a location where a nomad entrepreneur can conduct business without frontiers. It requires the facilities, climate and wow factor to satisfy your vacation needs. It also needs to be the place you’re happy to go home to each day.
Above all, the ideal trio location must be cost-effective, with a favourable tax climate. It needs to be well-connected, as your potential pool of employees is global these days. And it will help enormously if the location is already a business hub and a favourite venue for trade shows and events.
Add to this list access to talent and a tradition of innovation, investment, startups and business funding, and you’re definitely narrowing the field. One place leaps out ahead of the pack – Dubai.
5. Why Dubai is perfect for the nomad entrepreneur
Dubai jumped five places last year to reach 16th in the ‘ease of doing business’ rankings in The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report. The UAE federal and emirate governments encourage and support startups and SMEs, a sector that now represents 95% of all companies, accounting for 40% of the total value added in Dubai.
In terms of recent international business events, how about Gitext and Expo 2020 as proof of purpose? And don’t underestimate the importance of where Dubai sits on the map. It’s central, the gateway between east and west in a time zone just four hours ahead of Europe, and four behind Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai.
On the domestic front, the key to home comforts in Dubai is that it offers a fantastic lifestyle in safe surroundings, with some fabulous properties available. It’s a popular vacation destination, too, and welcomed nearly 17 million international tourists in 2019.
Could Dubai be your home/office/vacation spot?
All indications suggest that the blurring of work/home/vacation and a hybrid working regime is here to stay. Even if employers favour a move back to the 9–5 office routine, it will be hard to bring workers with them. In the US, one recent survey reported that over 40% of US workers would either look for another work-from-home job or quit immediately if forced to return to an office full time.
The pandemic has accelerated the stream of nomad entrepreneurs and expats attracted to the UAE by the lifestyle, tax-free earnings and better climate. Coupled with a wealth of educational facilities available to families, it’s an attractive place to work, rest and play.
The more workers adapt to the trio lifestyle of work, home and vacation all in one place, the more Dubai itself will adapt to accommodate this change in lifestyle.